Extension and Ag Research News


Dakota Gardener: Birth and re-birth

In addition to the buds expanding on the trees, many people are getting ready for tree planting season.

By Joe Zeleznik, Forester

NDSU Extension

I’m writing this on the last day of March, 2024. Spring is almost here – I can feel it!

Of course, I felt this way about three weeks ago when we had extremely warm temperatures. I got my hopes up and then it got cold again. A friend of mine refers to April as “blizzard season.”

There’s some truth in that.

Yet the days are much longer than they were a month ago and life is increasing. At a recent event in Napoleon, I asked participants what was the first sign of Spring, for them. The nearly unanimous answer was “the return of the geese.”

I was the only person who said, “American elm trees in bloom.” Go figure.

Life returns, in its own way and in its own time. I’ve been following my friend’s social media posts about calving at her farm. New life!

In addition to the buds expanding on the trees, many of my colleagues are getting ready for tree planting season. The local Soil Conservation District has taken out their equipment and completed spring maintenance and they’ve gotten the cooler ready to store the tens of thousands of seedlings that will be carefully put into the ground. When mature, those trees and shrubs will protect farmsteads, roadways, crops and livestock.

City foresters are also getting ready. Planting locations have been marked and their orders of planting stock from the nurseries are starting to come in. Elms, oaks and lindens, oh my! Birch, buckeye and hackberry!

I feel like I’m at the starting line of the 100-yard dash, just waiting for the gun to go off. Bang! Let’s plant!

In spring, at least here in the northern hemisphere, many of us also go through a personal rebirth. Often it has spiritual connotations and it’s usually very good. New life springs forth from death.

In trees, the new life will come from the new trees being planted and from the overwintering buds on established trees. Deciduous trees appear dead, but they’re really just dormant. Hopefully that’s true, but I fear that we’ll see a lot of dieback in ornamentals this year, because of our extremely warm – and variable – winter weather.

Also, I saw a lot more evidence of emerald ash borer (EAB) this winter in Moorhead and Dilworth, Minnesota. We still haven’t found this deadly insect in North Dakota, but it’s just a matter of time.

How will this insect, which is so devastating, create birth or re-birth? In the long run, I envision communities reinvesting in the “green infrastructure” of their urban forests. Diversification opportunities abound.

It all starts by planting one new tree this spring.

NDSU Agriculture Communication – April 3, 2024

Source: Joe Zeleznik, 701-730-3389, joseph.zeleznik@ndsu.edu

Editor: Kelli Anderson, 701-231-7006, kelli.c.anderson@ndsu.edu


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